Gala Snapshot: 50 Honorees in Our Community

Gala Snapshot: 50 Honorees in Our Community

As our year of celebration comes to a close, we’re proud to honor 50 of our community members for the work they’ve done. From aiding survivors of Hurricane María to supporting the Latinx community here in Boston, our honorees make a difference every day. We look forward to honoring each of them at our gala on November 3rd!

For more than 25 years, Aixa Beauchamp has worked in the field of philanthropy in the United States, Europe, and Latin America, helping institutions to strengthen their programs and broaden their impact in disenfranchised communities by crafting and managing programs that cut across many sectors.
Alberto Vasallo Jr. was involved in the fight for Puerto Ricans to have access to dignified living quarters, especially in what was Parcel 19 in the South End. He has supported the creation of IBA, Centro Cultural Villa Victoria, Casa Myrna Vazquez and Alianza Hispana, and was very valuable in making the boricuas’ arduous struggle defending their rights known to the larger community.
At the start of the season in 2017, Alex Cora became the youngest manager of the Red Sox in 20 years. Although well-known for an illustrious baseball career, Cora is also known for his work in the community. After Hurricane María, Cora helped deliver nearly 10 tons of supplies to help the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, including medical supplies and baseball equipment for over 100 children.
Serving as Executive Director since 1999, Alexandra Oliver-Dávila has transformed Sociedad Latina into a cutting-edge, data-driven youth development organization. Under her leadership, Sociedad Latina has quadrupled its budget, expanded board membership, increased the total number of youth and families served, broadened programming, and developed the Pathways to Success model.
Having worked as a field organizer for Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley’s reelection campaign in 2014, and later as his Latino Liaison, Alexandra Valdez has served as an intern for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C. working with Latino youth; a fundraiser and coordinator for RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network); and public relations coordinator for the Hyde/Jackson Merchant Association. Currently Alexandra Valdez serves as the Latina Liaison for the City of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as well as The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Coordinator.
Andy Vargas serves as State Representative for the 3rd Essex District, representing the people of Haverhill, Massachusetts. Rep. Vargas previously served on the Haverhill City Council, where, at age 22, he became the first Latino elected official from the city.
Betty Francisco is an entrepreneur, business executive, attorney and community leader. She is the co-founder of Latina Circle, a Boston-based network that is advancing Latina leaders across industries into positions of power and influence, and which launched the Amplify Latinx, a non-partisan, collaborative movement whose mission is to build Latinx economic and political power.
Reinelda Rivera, better known as Chiqui, is a longtime resident of Villa Victoria – a vibrant affordable housing community in Boston’s South End. As a cultural agent, Chiqui also is the Coordinator of Estrellas Tropicales and a member of the IBA (Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción) Board for over 15 years.
Damali Vidot continues to be a voice for the most disenfranchised residents by standing with workers, immigrant families and challenging the status quo. In her three years in office, she was twice voted by her City Council peers to be Vice President of the City Council, and was voted President of the City Council in January of 2018.
Dania Vazquez is the founding headmaster of the Margarita Muñiz Academy, an Innovation School, dedicated to preparing students for college and beyond in a dual-language model. Muñiz Academy is the only dual language public high school in the New England Region.
Eneida Roman currently serves on the HOPE National Taskforce, a distinguished team of Latina trailblazers tasked with increasing Latina leadership representation at every level of public service across the nation. In 2012, Eneida co-founded The Latina Circle (TLC), a Boston-based network that is advancing Latina leaders across industries into positions of power and influence. In 2017, TLC launched Amplify Latinx; a non-partisan, collaborative movement whose mission is to build Latinx economic and political power by significantly increasing Latinx civic engagement and representation in leadership positions across sectors.
Dr. Ernesto Gonzalez was the founder and director of the Hispanic Medical Students Mentorship Program; a cross-cultural, cross-institutional mentorship program for Hispanic students attending the four medical schools in Massachusetts (Boston University, Harvard, Tufts and University of Massachusetts) that began in 2000.
In 2018, Fabiola Méndez got her Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music, becoming the first student to graduate with the Puerto Rican cuatro as principal instrument. Fabiola has participated in several cuatro competitions winning prizes in all of them, including being selected as the winner of the “National Cuatro Player Competition” in 2011 by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture.
In 1984, Felix Arroyo founded the Latino Democratic Committee, the first statewide Latino political organization in Massachusetts, and served as the Latin American Affairs Director for United States Senator John Kerry. In November 2014, he was the first Latino to win a county-wide political race in Massachusetts.
A pioneer in the City of Boston, Frieda Garcia’s legacy of more than five decades of innovative, staunch, and effective advocacy to provide housing rights for tenants and to bring much needed services to poor and working class people in Boston has cemented her status as one of the most effective change agents in city history. Her career path as founding director of La Alianza Hispana, leader of United South End Settlements, and board chair of key advocacy organizations, reflects the dedication to the causes she cares so deeply about.
Iván Espinoza-Madrigal is the Executive Director of Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. Iván has been recognized as one of Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color.
Jabes Rojas was appointed in early 2015 by Governor Baker to serve as Deputy Chief for Access & Opportunity as part of the Governor’s Office senior team. In this capacity, Jabes leads the strategic diversity efforts on personnel and procurement for the Commonwealth. In early 2017, Governor Baker expanded Jabes’ scope of responsibilities to include Community Affairs.
Jacqueline Conrad is the Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Public Relations at Cambridge College, a non-profit higher education institution that provides academically excellent, time efficient, and cost-effective higher education for a diverse population of adult learners for whom those opportunities may have been limited or denied.
Jaime Rodriguez has been the initiator, advocate and leader of many community struggles that have benefited the community. Jaime has been chair of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Massachusetts Chapter, led the Atrevete voter registration program in the 80s, was the former president of the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument, and initiated El Jolgorio Navideno, the Hispanic Writers Week, as well as conversations between police and community neighborhood watches and much, much more.
Jeffrey Sánchez has represented the communities of Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and Brookline as state representative since 2003. He currently serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, which is responsible for crafting the state’s annual budget, as well as legislation affecting the finances of the Commonwealth.
Jim Canales was appointed president and trustee of the Barr Foundation in May 2014. Prior to joining Barr, he spent two decades in a variety of roles at The James Irvine Foundation in California, including President and Chief Executive Officer from 2003 through 2014.
Jon Santiago is an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center and is the Massachusetts State Representative-elect for the 9th Suffolk District.
A beloved radio host, José Masso has been bringing ¡Con Salsa! to the Boston area for over 40 years. In 2009, IBA honored Masso with the Jorge Hernández Leadership Award for civic engagement at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts during their ¡Cultura Viva! Celebration.
Josiane Martinez is founder and CEO of Archipelago Strategies Group (ASG), the region's leading multicultural marketing firm. Josiane and ASG recently helped engineer the historic victory of Ayanna Pressley to become the first woman of color elected to Congress in the Commonwealth's 230 year history.
Councilor Jossie Valentin has been a strong advocate for the Puerto Rican community, as well as the LGBT community, for many years. She created the Boricua Care Packages Project with her wife after Hurricane María devastated Puerto Rico and has continued to work on several initiatives to help the people of Puerto Rico directly since then.
Jovita Fontanez was the first Hispanic woman to serve as head of the Boston Election Commission and the first Hispanic woman to be a member of the Electoral College of Massachusetts. She also helped found the South End Community Health Center and served as its associate director.
Juan Carlos Morales is a financial executive with over a decade of global experience in strategic finance, business management, and growth planning. He is the co-founder of The Latino Legacy Fund at The Boston Foundation and the Boston Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA).
In his role as Corporate Business Diversity Officer, Juan Lopera is responsible for company-wide diversity efforts focused around multicultural marketing and service strategies, health equity collaborations with providers, supplier inclusion and workforce diversity.
Juan Vega is the Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs at the Mass. Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. In 1999, he was selected by his peers to serve as Council President, the first Latino in the state to serve in that capacity at the municipal level. Most recently, Juan was President and CEO of Centro Latino, a multiservice nonprofit organization based in Chelsea and Cambridge.
As the Founder and Executive Director of the Collaborative Parent Leadership Action Network, (CPLAN), Julia Mejia cultivates meaningful relationships between key decision-makers and the families they serve. Julia is also founder of the Determined Divas Civic Challenge - a project created to engage communities of color in the electoral process.
As Digital Media Director for Futuro Media, Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela works with all of Futuro’s shows and is a key voice in shaping the company’s digital and business visions. He is also a frequent contributor to Latino USA, editor, publisher and co-host (with Maria Hinojosa) of In The Thick.
Lazaro Lopez (Laz) is Senior Manager of Boston One Fiber. He leads the Boston One Fiber Program Management Office/Staff supporting Boston One Fiber, 5G, FiOS planning, design and build, Network Transformation, Efficiency, Safety, and Process Improvement Initiatives.
Marty Martinez is the Chief of the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services for the City of Boston. As the Chief of Health and Human Services in Boston, Martinez helps to oversee the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Center for Youth and Families, the Disabilities Commission, the Office of Fair Housing and Equity, the Mayor's Office of Food Access, the Mayor's Office for Immigrant of Advancement, the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services, the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly, and the Office of Veterans Services.
Micho F. Spring, the current chair of Global Corporate Practice and Weber Shandwick New England, holds numerous board memberships, including the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation, and the Massachusetts Women's Forum, of which she is a past President. Born in Havana, Micho is also actively involved in efforts to improve US-Cuba relations and is founding chair of Friends of Caritas Cubana, a non-profit providing humanitarian services in Cuba.
Dr. Miren Uriarte’s research has documented the history, growth, development and experience of Latino groups in the region focusing on issues such as im/migration, the diversification of the Latino population, their economic, political and social participation, their interaction with human service systems and the impact of social and educational policy on their lives. In the last few years, she has focused on the effects of educational policy on the outcomes of Latino students and English Language Learners in Massachusetts and Boston.
Nahir Torres serves on the steering committee of the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund, is an active member of the Social Justice Funders Network, and the national Communities for Just Schools Fund. In July of 2017, Nahir was sworn in as a member of Massachusetts' Latino Advisory Commission to the Governor.
As president of Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Nora Moreno Cargie partners with nonprofit organizations, businesses, municipal leaders, community members and older people to make our cities and towns better places to grow up and grow old.
Otoniel Figueroa-Durán is the co-founder of the Alliance for Puerto Rico/Vamos4PR, a grassroots organization that has been at the forefront of the social activism by brainstorming solutions to both the financial crisis in Puerto Rico and the post Hurricane Maria recovery. He is also part of the advisory committee for the Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico Fund, created by civic leaders of Boston's Puerto Rican community, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, State Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, the Boston Foundation and the Latino Legacy Fund.
Oz Mondejar is the Vice President of Talent Management at Partners HealthCare. He also serves as the Senior Vice President of Mission and Advocacy for Partners Continuing Care, Inc. (“PCC”), the non-acute care services division of Partners HealthCare. Oz works at the intersection of policy, advocacy and media, defining PCC’s core values and leveraging the organization’s resources in order to maximize positive social impact - locally, nationally and internationally.
Pedro Cruz grew up in the Villa Victoria neighborhood of the South End and began his creative career through drawing. This led to other forms of art which include poetry and photography, specializing in documentary and portrait photography.
Phyllis Barajas is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Conexión, an executive mentoring and leadership experience for mid career Hispanic Latino professionals. Among her other accomplishments Phyllis was appointed in 1994 by President Bill Clinton as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education offices of elementary, secondary and bilingual education. Before her appointment, she served as the first Hispanic Latino assistant dean for human resources at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Reinier Moquete is CEO for Advoqt Technology Group. The firm works with enterprises to deliver Intelligent Automation solutions including Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, and Cybersecurity Automation to reduce costs and improve business outcomes. As a community advocate, Reinier is active in many philanthropic initiatives including being the Co-Founder & Board President for Latino STEM Alliance, the Latino Legacy Fund at The Boston Foundation, and Tech Hire Boston at the Boston Private Industry Council.
As Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development in Massachusetts, Secretary Rosalin Acosta leverages her passion to make the world a better place for the next generation to ensure that workers, employers, and the unemployed have the tools and training needed to succeed in the Massachusetts economy.
Santiago Nariño is a community organizer, concept visualizer, event planner, and photographer currently working at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as a Latin America project coordinator where he focuses on bringing an intersectional and equity lens to health and healthcare worldwide, especially in the region of Latin America.
Sonia Chang-Díaz is the first Latina elected to the Massachusetts State Senate, where she represents eight neighborhoods in Boston. She has been widely recognized as a champion for public education, criminal justice reform and increasing opportunities for low-income and immigrant communities.

Thomas Melendez is an investment officer at MFS Investment Management® (MFS®) and an institutional equity portfolio manager of the firm's global equity portfolios.
Tomás González is a native Bostonian with 15 years of local government experience. Prior to joining Core Empowerment, Tomás served as the Deputy Director for the City of Boston’s Office of Neighborhood Services, as an Assistant Commissioner for the Inspectional Services Department, and as Chief of Staff for Elderly Commission.
Currently the Global Head of Client Solutions and PMO at State Street Corporation, Yvonne Garcia serves as the Chairwoman for the largest Latino Professional Organization in the country, ALPFA. Yvonne also serves as the Chair of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund for Boston and on the Board of Directors for The Partnership, Inc. She is the co-founding Chair of Milagros para Niños, a board at Children’s Hospital in Boston, which has raised more than $8.2 million in funds for Hispanic children who can’t afford medical care. Yvonne also serves on Massachusetts Governor Baker’s Latino Advisory Commission Board.
Yvonne Ortiz’ family were involved in all aspects of community life, giving back to their newfound community in the South End, while also maintaining a strong connection to their Latino roots. Yvonne attended Esquelita Borken, the first bilingual preschool established in Boston, which is now IBA’s preschool program. Today, she serves as Executive Assistant in the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, where she is known for her infectious laugh and for keeping staff on their toes.
Zamawa Arenas is Founder and CEO of Flowetik, a brand marketing consultancy that helps socially responsible leaders achieve impact and make a difference. She is also a founding member of the Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation.

Our 50 honorees exemplify the best in our community whether it’s through corporate philanthropy, excellence in the arts, or civic engagement. We’re grateful to work alongside a group of people such as this, and are looking forward to our continued partnerships in supporting our community in Boston and beyond!